UFC superstar Conor McGregor makes his long-awaited Octagon return as he takes on no. 2 ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier in an all-important lightweight clash.
With UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retiring last year, this fight has title implications with the winner likely becoming one side of the next lightweight title bout. Aside from that, UFC 257’s main event is a rematch between two fighters who squared off at UFC 178 in 2014. In that fight, McGregor knocked out Poirier inside one round. But a lot has changed since then.
Conor McGregor needs no introduction. The Notorious is the most recognizable MMA fighter on the planet and is the first fighter in the history of the UFC to hold two world titles simultaneously. A former two-division champion at the Cage Warriors promotion, the Irishman will be fighting inside the Octagon for the first time in a year.
McGregor had planned on having a busy 2020 but unfortunately, the pandemic struck and the Notorious found himself in the freezer since his January 2020 knockout of Cowboy Cerrone. The Cerrone fight was at welterweight so this is McGregor’s first at lightweight since losing to Khabib in October 2018. This will only be his sixth fight since 2015 so he’s averaging just one fight per year.
The Notorious has a record of 22-4 with 19 knockouts and one win via submission. He is coming off a 1st round TKO of Donald Cerrone but is just 3-2 in his last five bouts. McGregor is a southpaw fighter who stands 5-9 tall and has a reach of 74 inches. He owns one of the most devastating left hands in MMA.
Dustin Poirier is the former interim lightweight champion and the current no. 2 lightweight in the UFC. The Diamond is also the 7th best pound for pound fighter in the UFC and he owns notable wins over former champions Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, and Justin Gaethje.
After losing to Khabib at UFC 242, Poirier got back in the win column with an impressive decision win over Dan Hooker. In that fight, Poirier used his superior conditioning and experience to wear down Hooker and pick up his 26th career victory. The Diamond is 10-2 with one no-contest since moving to lightweight. He has been one of the best in the division in the last three years and a win on Saturday will cement his status.
The 32-year old from Lafayette, Louisiana has a professional MMA record of 26-6 with 12 knockouts and 7 wins via submission. Poirier went 9-1-1 in eleven bouts before suffering a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242. Poirier is also a southpaw fighter who stands 5-9 tall and has a reach of 72 inches.
McGregor knocked out Poirier inside one round when these two fighters first met. However, that bout was way back in 2014 and they were fighting at the featherweight division. A lot has changed since then. McGregor has fought as high as welterweight but is coming back to lightweight for this rematch.
Meanwhile, Poirier has become one of the best lightweights in the last three years, beating former champions Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, and Max Holloway in succession before losing to Khabib. The Diamond showed great durability and terrific conditioning in his last fight. Those could come in handy against McGregor who is notorious for tiring late in his bouts.
Punch for punch, McGregor is, without doubt, the better striker and has more pop in his punches. But Poirier’s boxing is elite and he is a durable fighter who has been stopped just twice in his career.
Unfortunately one of those losses came against McGregor. 14 out of the Irishman’s 19 knockout wins have come inside one round. McGregor’s predicted 60-second finish of Poirier may not happen on Saturday. But with the kind of firepower these two have, I’m not expecting this to go beyond the first round. The bigger puncher wins a quick fight.
Prediction: Conor McGregor
If you think that McGregor is too pricey at -315, or if you’re not too sure about who to pick at the Moneyline, there are several prop bets available, as always in a Conor McGregor fight. Let’s take a look at the ones with the better betting values:
Conor McGregor has gone past round two only thrice in his MMA career. However, two of those came in his last five bouts. Despite that, McGregor has 14 first round knockouts and his last win against Donald Cerrone came in just 104 seconds. The Irishman isn’t a fighter who likes to play around. Just ask Jose Aldo who lost his belt in 13 seconds. Poirier has 19 stoppages in 26 wins. Only 12 of Poirier’s 33 total bouts ended under 2.5 rounds and his last two wins have gone the full five-round route.
Prediction: I’m picking McGregor so I have to go with the under 2.5 rounds here -200.
19 of Conor McGregor’s 22 wins have been via knockout including seven out of his last eight bouts. On the other hand, 19 out of Poirier’s 26 wins have been by stoppage. However, the Diamond’s last two victories have been by decision. The first fight between these two lasted just 106 seconds with McGregor stopping Poirier. When it comes to losses, all four of McGregor’s MMA defeats have been by submission, meaning only two of his total 26 bouts going the distance. Four of Poirier’s six losses have been via stoppage, including four out of his five octagon defeats. I think this will be a firefight between two strikers who have legit knockout power. I don’t expect this fight to go the distance.
Prediction: No -400
As stated above, McGregor has gone the distance only twice in his MMA career so this one’s not going the distance. That leaves us with four options to pick from here. When you talk about Conor McGregor, 86.36% of his wins have come via knockout. He’s one of the best strikers in the game, period. As for Poirier, he’s also primarily a striker. Only half of his last 10 wins have been by knockout and his last two victories against Max Holloway and Dan Hooker have been by decision. The Diamond also has 7 submission wins or 26.9% of his victories have come via submission. If you’re picking Poirier, he can win this fight in different ways.
Prediction: McGregor by KO, TKO, DQ -200. If you’re going with Dustin, pick Poirier to win on points at +550 I think his best chance is to win is to take McGregor deep.
79.1% of these fighters’ combined wins have been by stoppage so I think we have to eliminate the “Goes to Decision +300” here.
Prediction: Conor McGregor -200 for me but if you’re rooting for Dustin, of course, go win Poirier at +400
If you believe in Mystic Mac, go with McGregor in Round 1. The Irishman has predicted that he will stop Poirier in sixty seconds. It’s hard to think that lightning will strike twice on Poirier but McGregor has 14 first-round knockout wins. Five of those first round KOs happened in the UFC, including in his last bout against Donald Cerrone when he was coming off a long layoff. Conor wants that Khabib rematch badly, even if he isn’t talking much about it. I think he will be looking to impress and the only way to do that is to stop Dustin early.
Prediction: Conor McGregor in Round 1 +170
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